College graduates start butcher business

CNC report from Shanghai
Added On August 22, 2013

These days, with so many university graduates in China, a lot of young people are trying new ways to make a living. Now we'll meet a group of 30 young people who've decided to sell pork in a Shanghai market.

Some of them even have studied abroad. So what's it like for a college graduate to put down his pen and start cutting meat?

Let's find out.

At the farm produce market in Shanghai, this butcher's stand is peculiar. The young staff look like college students, wearing glasses and watches.

Two months into their careers in the marketplace, they have no difficulty chopping pork despite their sophisticated appearance.

25-year-old Haiyang just returned with a bachelor degree from Wisconsin State University this March. He's been working at this butcher stand for two months, just 30 days away from completing his internship. His nimble work, thoughtful service and warm smiles have won him many regular customers.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) Customer
"He gave me a free grocery bag yesterday, and today gave me another. Their service attitude is pretty good, and they always smile. I prefer this kind of organic pork. It’s the only pork I buy. This store has just opened, and I have made a few purchases. Pretty good."

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) Customer
"I bought a pig piece of liver. They gave me some pork for free. The service is good, very polite, and very thoughtful. They even gave me a bag for free."

However, the price of the organic pork, which is almost twice as much as that of the generic pork in the market, along with the special group of staff, has caused controversy among the customers.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) Customer
"The staff is okay, but the pork is too expensive. I won't buy it again.

Common among the staff is the indecision of accepting a job selling pork since they have got their college degree and overseas experience.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) HAIYANG, Pork seller
"Sometimes I have this concern, because I used to have no worries when I was in school. I didn’t need to earn money or handle a pig in a stuffy room in such hot weather. Of course that kind of work is lighter and more comfortable. I have some trouble adjusting now, and sometimes wonder if I have made the right decision, if I should keep going. Whenever I think of this, I feel my conviction that I chose this path and I must finish it."

However, taking on this job demands adapting both mentally and physically.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) HAIYANG, Pork seller
"I had the most trouble adjusting to the work schedule, because the pigs are slaughtered around midnight, and delivered around 3 AM. We have to get here at about 5 AM to dissect the pig, or the pork would go bad, and we go to bed according to the daily workload, sometimes at 9 or 10, sometimes at 11 or 12 at night. The next day we get up as early, sell pork for a whole day until 4 or 5 PM. After we go home and have dinner, it’s already 7. We hardly have any time to relax. It’s like this every day, even when we have a day off; we still come around the butcher stand, because we are unfamiliar with Shanghai."

Haiyang majored in Business Administration in the US, and it was his dream to start a business of his own back in China. So he gave up a job opportunity abroad and started training himself from the basic level.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) HAIYANG, Pork seller
"As a college graduate, being a white-collar, a public servant or having a comfortable and respectable job is not what I really want. I want to give myself a chance to experience a different lifestyle. Even though working as a butcher may seem vulgar and uncultured to the general public, I still feel I have gained some experience after working a while. That’s why I chose to give myself a challenge, a chance to experience what I want to experience."

These young people face three-month's butchering internship at the Farmers' Markets. Afterwards, they have the option to remain a butcher and work their way up the ladder, or join the franchise with their own store.